I Need Help Rephrased

Alright, my earlier post about needing help ran off in a informative, but different direction than I had hoped. So here is my second try. How do you help teenagers who are in destructive relationships? This is probably the number 2 question of my ministry. (The number one questions is How do you convince teenagers to actually believe that God is real and then live like it or some variation of that)

I have more students than I can count who are caught up in relationships that are hurting them. Some of them are girlfriends who use them or who are way too controlling. Some are with guys who don’t care about God. Others are with friends who constantly pull them away from God and then there are the guys who grab onto any relationship no matter how messed up it is just because they are desperate to feel like they belong somewhere.

So how do you combat this. How do you tell a girl who is "in love" that the guy she loves is just going to hurt her. How do you tell a guy who for the first time in his life feels like a "real man" that dating a girl who isn’t a Christian is going against God’s plan and he has to break up with her? And to take it to the next step. How do you tell a guy who is in love with another guy that he has to stop chasing those feelings?  (alright the whole gay thing is another tangent that I don’t want to travel down right now. I am working on something, but I’m not ready yet so please don’t take this post down that road)

So what about it? What do you do?  

7 thoughts on “I Need Help Rephrased

  • March 7, 2006 at 1:01 AM

    OK Shane, if I may, let me offer a few thoughts and comments from a different perspective than you, Chris, and Brad have currently discussed.

    First off though, kudos for using the Scott Adams reference in a post rebuttal. Sweet. I’ve yet to find need to do that, but I know it’s coming soon, I can just feel it.

    Now, as to your topic, let me come at you from a different outlook.

    Perspective #1: Whereas you spend a lot of time ministering to youth, I spend most of mine ministering to married adults from around 25 to 45 years old. Let me tell you, the characteristics you reference in this post describes my demographic just as well as yours. Destructive relationships, controlling relationships, doormat relationships, cheating relationships, desparate relationships. We don’t automatically grow out of those tendencies and problems when we ‘grow up.’ They stay with us, because we are sinners and in need of Jesus.

    Perspective number 2: I’m seeing this more and more often, and you probably see it even more often than I do. It’s the Peter Pan syndrome among adolescent males. We’ve grown into a culture where boys are prolonging becoming men for a much longer time period than ever before seen in history. They are staying immature, needy, irresponsible, and yes, as you said, selfish. I have to think that if I were a 17 year old girl that had a level head on my shoulders, a strong belief in God and what he wants for my life, raging hormones that are just begging for male companionship, and all I had to pick from was the guys in my own age group, I’d become an extrememly depressed young lady. I honestly can’t blame a girl for wanting to date a boy a little older than herself, the two of them are most probably on a closer maturity level than she could be with any boy in her high school. Teen guys these days seem to have no sense of urgency to ‘grow up’, and it’s wreaking havoc in just such situations as this.

    Perspective #3: Being a teenager these days is hard. The people that you minister to are stuck in an awkward transition state in our culture, where they are being told that they need to start making decisions for themselves, and then being told that it’s the wrong decision. Worst yet, they are starting to figure out that there are some things that aren’t black and white, and some decisions that are neither good nor bad. People that they respect and look up to are oftentimes offering conflicting advice on a range of topics. That’s hard for adolescents to process. It’s hard for senior adults to process for that matter, but at least seniors have had a little experience at it. Teens don’t have the luxury of experience yet, it’s all new to them. We’ve all been there, we’ve all had to go through it. It’s hard. I’d try to be there for them, listen to them, offer advice when it’s solicited, and as I believe Chris said, be a guide. You can’t make decisions for them, and you can’t make them date, or not date, a certain person. You can’t make them love Christ. Ultimately, their decision is their own, and when they make it, you have to be there for them at that time too.

    Lastly, you’re a Baptist. If you’re drinking, you better be doing it in your prayer closet where no one else can see you, you sinner!

  • March 7, 2006 at 4:36 AM

    Yeah! Someone got my Dilbert reference! I love it!

  • March 7, 2006 at 2:47 PM

    Everyone please note for future reference…..Byron is a freak of nature.

    Posted by: Andy | Thursday, January 12, 2006 at 09:55 PM

    Byron is a freak of nature for pointing out some common misconceptions about consuming raw eggs. Andy, however, picks up on BOCTAOE, and he’s a hero. Yeah, that’s fair.

  • March 8, 2006 at 1:37 AM

    Boy, I linked to this site looking for worship dramas and really got caught up in something totally different! That’s a good thing, though…

    I echo Andy’s comments regarding our sinful nature; the relative immaturity of age 17 today versus age 17 when I was 17, or for that matter, when my parents were 17; and the troubles that teenagers face.

    I am no longer in youth ministry, but I have been down that path. Wow. What a grueling ministry. You have a group of people being bombarded by a culture that is becoming increasingly anti-God, never mind the passing, but hollow references being bandied about by immoral music stars, top elected officials, and even church members. They are indoctrinated in public schools that tell them authority figures do not necessarily know what is best, and to question it at every opportunity. This, to take a short aside, is an increasingly popular theme for children too–watch many of the movies on Disney, and a common thread of "child knows best, outwits boobish adults" plays throughout their movies.

    Morality is relativistic, so say teachers, counselors, and even some Pastors (God, seriously, have mercy on us all).

    They are told that being a conformist, with regards to respecting authority, faith in God, and good citizenship (which paradoxically, highlights who the real conformists are: Is not the worldy path the most travelled, and arguably the easiest?) is a bad thing–"we like the Sprite in you!"

    I said all that to say: The onus you are placing on yourself to prevent your kids from traversing down that particular path, is going to be difficult to achieve. There are so many variables that you are unable to control, that it makes it exceedingly difficult. What is their home life like? How is their self-esteem? Have they been abused in the past? Do their parents support them? And on and on and on…

    With God, we know all things are possible, yet with the gift of free will He gave us, the opportunity to mess it up is great. Turns out, there are about 10 gillion Biblical examples of those who exercised their free will and totally jacked it up, despite being warned by advisors.

    I think there are very relevant questions to ask them, and if they are willing to be honest with themselves and you, the answers will be apparent. (Some of these are based on priciples I am stealing shamelessly from Andy Stanley on "How Does God Guide".)

    1. Is your relationship something you can have in the open, or is it something you must hide?
    2. Have you asked the opinion of people you trust (Pastor, Youth Pastor, Parents, Grandparents, other trusted adults)?
    3. How is your walk with God? Does this relationship help it or hurt it?
    4. How does the Holy Spirit deal with you? Do you feel guilt?
    5. How does this relationship affect you? Good? Bad? Do you like to do the things you did before the relationship? Do you DO those things you did before the relationship?
    6. Does your relationship violate any Biblical principles (pre-marital sex being the most obvious)
    7. Is this wise?

    I read about a girl who was dating a guy (didn’t give age) that was physically abusing and raping her, and she said she didn’t feel she could leave him because she felt God was going to use her to lead him to salvation. WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Come on… If she had applied these questions, I think the answer would have been clear to her. Then again, those who are caught up can’t see clearly. If they look through a dark glass normally, in this case, they are looking through one that has been spray painted black, then covered with aluminum foil.

    Anyway, I wish you all the blessings God can give you in your ministry, and I will pray that you will be endowed with the wisdom to handle each situation in a way that God would be pleased with.


  • March 8, 2006 at 2:14 AM

    I don’t think that Shane is trying or wants to make decisions, control, or meddle in the lives of his students. I can really echo his sentiments. It is hard to see a 24 year old dating a teenager. I care deeply about the lives of my students. I see them like my own children. I don’t like to see them making bad decisions. And the majority of time it is going to be a bad decision. Maybe not 999 out of a 1000, but definetely a majority. Although I will admit I think dating is a bad decision for anybody not ready to get married in the short-term future.

    It is frustrating to make huge sacrifices to minister to people who continually waste their lives with their decisions. Maybe it doesn’t affect you, but it is a reality for me that is sometimes hard to deal with. It is hard for me to see the giftings God has given students abused and wasted.

  • March 8, 2006 at 2:40 AM

    At some point in time you have to trust that you have helped to nuture a person who has strong beliefs and believe in them to to do the right thing.

  • March 8, 2006 at 4:07 AM

    Thanks again for all of your great comments. You guys are amazing. Thanks for adding your voices to what is going on here. It is much more fun when you guys are involved too. For more on this topic be sure to check out the comment under the "I’m a Basketball God" entry too because I think it belongs in this conversation.


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